After failing in their effort to abort
a gay partner registry from taking effect, a group of ministers in
Cleveland say they are resolved to ending it.
Cleveland city leaders approved the
registry at a Monday December 8 session by a 13-7 vote.
Cleveland's domestic partner registry
allows gay and straight couples to seek recognition of their union
from the city. Ohio passed one of the toughest gay marriage bans in
the country four years ago; it prohibits both gay marriage and
marriage-like unions. To ensure that the registry does not run afoul
of the state's prohibition it lacks any force of law and guarantees
no protections whatsoever. Any benefits given to couples would be
United Pastors in Mission, a group of
mostly black ministers led by president Rev. C. Jay Matthews of the
Mount Sinai Baptist Church and director Rev. Marvin McMickle of
Antioch Baptist Church, at first attempted to stop the registry from
taking effect, but failed to collect about 11,000 signatures before
the January 5 deadline.
Last month, Cleveland NAACP President
George Forbes, a highly regarded former Cleveland politician and
civil rights lawyer, attempted to broker a solution.
“The registry is passed. It's not
going to be undone,” he told Cleveland's gay biweekly the Gay
People's Chronicle (www.gaypeopleschronicle.com),
which has reported extensively on the registry.
Forbes met with Rev. C. Jay Matthews
twice to discuss the issue. A January 27 meeting included the
editorial board of the African-American weekly the Call and Post,
of which Forbes is a member.
“I'm a civil rights lawyer and I
realized that I had never had a gay or lesbian civil rights case, and
it is because [in Ohio] there are no rights,” Forbes said.
The Cleveland NAACP passed a resolution
in support of the partner registry. And the Call and Post
printed an editorial backing the position.
“For over 90 years, this newspaper
has been a champion of the downtrodden and those who civil rights
have been attacked or violated. ... The Call and Post goes on
record in supporting the domestic partner registry,” the paper
But neither have been able to mend
fences with the ministers who repeated their vow to repeal the law.
Matthews formed the Cleveland Coalition of Churches to campaign on
the issue and has attracted out-of-state support, including the
Alabama-based American Family Foundation.
The group says they will deliver the
required 5,000 signatures by March to place a repeal before voters in
The ministers say they oppose the
registry on religious grounds.
“That lifestyle goes against God,”
Matthews told a Plain Dealer reporter.